Tuesday 31 March 2020

World Bank Warning. Unemployment Surging.

Baltic Dry Index. 548 -08   Brent Crude 22.87 Spot Gold 1614

Covid-19 Pandemic finally underway, according to the WHO, at long last!

Coronavirus Cases 31/3/20 World 787,932  Deaths 37,868 (Maybe.)

“How could anyone be so stupid as to trust a trader? The best thing I could do was pretend to others at Salomon that I had meant to screw the customer. People would respect that. That was called jamming. I had just jammed bonds, albeit unknowingly, for the first time. I had lost my innocence.”

Michael Lewis, Liar's Poker

In the gambling casinos, aka global stock markets, hope and greed is triumphing over common sense and fear.

I still think all rallies remain a stock market exit opportunity. Our global world economy is still only in the first phase of its downward shock. Unemployment is surging from America, through Europe out to Asia.  Unemployed people simply don’t consume like it’s 2019 all over again.

A massive consumer demand drop-off comes next. A massive wave of corporate bankruptcies too.

In America, companies taking bailouts have to promise no stock buybacks or dividends out to 2022. But stock buybacks and free money from the Fedsters were the main driver of US stocks hitting the highs back in late February.

Below, buyer beware. Does anyone, anywhere believe the numbers coming out of China.

Asian markets mostly rise after Wall Street rally, encouraging factory data from China

Published: March 31, 2020 at 12:02 a.m. ET
Asian shares were mostly higher Tuesday after a rally in U.S. stocks, mostly spurred by health care companies’ announcements of developments that could aid in the coronavirus outbreak.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 NIK, -0.824% gave up early gains and was last down in morning trading. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 XJO, -1.683% fell 0.4%, while South Korea’s Kospi 180721, 1.618% picked up 1.7%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng HSI, +1.09% was up 1.2% and the Shanghai Composite SHCOMP, 0.422% gained 0.4%. Benchmark indexes in Taiwan Y9999, 0.731% , Singapore STI, 2.024% and Indonesia JAKIDX, +1.70% gained.

“Despite some respite for markets overnight, uncertainty remains as the spread of the COVID-19 virus continues,” said Zhu Huani at Mizuho Bank, warning against too much optimism.

“Central banks and authorities continue to step up measures to support the economy.”

In Asia, the Monetary Authority of Singapore eased policy Monday, and the central bank of China has also cut a key interest rate.

Official data also showed that China’s manufacturing activity and service sector bounced back stronger than expected in March, as businesses reopened after the coronavirus shutdown.

The overnight rally on Wall Street tacked more gains onto a recent upswing for the market, which is coming off the best week for the S&P 500 in 11 years, albeit after falling into bear market territory. 
Optimism is budding that the worst of the selling may be approaching, but markets around the world are still wary as leaders work to nurse their economies through the pandemic. The S&P 500 remains 22.4% below its record set last month, and oil tumbled to an 18-year low.

Back in the real world, far from the greed in the gambling casinos, a harsh, bleak reality, just gets harsher and bleaker. Unemployment is rising with no sign of a coronavirus crisis let up in the USA. If anything, the Democrat run New York City coronavirus crisis seems out of control.

Virus May Cut China's Growth Rate By Half, Push 11 Million Into Poverty: World Bank

The pandemic is causing "an unprecedented global shock, which could bring growth to a halt and could increase poverty across the region," said Aaditya Mattoo, World Bank chief economist for East Asia and the Pacific.

Updated: March 31, 2020 07:58 am IST
Washington, United States:

The coronavirus pandemic's economic fallout could cause China's growth to come to a standstill while driving 11 million more people in East Asia into poverty, the World Bank warned Monday.
The pandemic is causing "an unprecedented global shock, which could bring growth to a halt and could increase poverty across the region," said Aaditya Mattoo, World Bank chief economist for East Asia and the Pacific.

Even in the best-case scenario, the region will see a sharp drop in growth, with China's expansion slowing to 2.3 percent from 6.1 percent in 2019, according to a report on the pandemic's impact on the region.

With two-fifths of the world's population under some form of lockdown that's caused the shuttering of businesses and a slowdown in transportation to try to contain the virus, the country where the outbreak originated may escape a recession but will nonetheless suffer a sharp slowdown.

Just two months ago, the World Bank's economists forecast China would grow by 5.9 percent this year, which would have been its worst performance since 1990.

Now the world's second-largest economy faces a more dire outlook, reflected in the record contraction in manufacturing activity in February and industrial production that fell for the first time in 30 years.

The East Asia and Pacific region, excluding China, could see growth slow to 1.3 percent in the baseline or contract 2.8 percent in the more pessimistic scenario as compared to 5.8 percent last year, the report said.

"The pandemic is profoundly affecting the region's economies, but the depth and duration of the shock are unusually uncertain," the report said, noting the region already was unsettled by trade conflict with the United States.

"Containment of the pandemic would allow recovery, but the risk of durable financial stress is high even beyond 2020," the World Bank warned. "Most vulnerable are countries that rely heavily on trade, tourism, and commodities; that are heavily indebted; and that rely on volatile financial flows."

- Worsening poverty -

Even in the best case, marked by a sharp slowdown followed by a strong recovery, 24 million fewer people in the region will escape poverty, the report said.

But an additional 11 million people could descend into poverty under the more negative outlook, where there is a severe economic contraction followed by a sluggish recovery.

Mattoo said the 17 countries in the region key to global value chains and accounting for 70 percent of world trade "have all been affected" and now have some of the world's highest numbers of COVID-19 cases.

South Korea's February factory output contracts most in over 11 years

March 31, 2020 / 12:32 AM
SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea’s factory output contracted at its sharpest pace in more than 11 years in February, official data showed on Tuesday, adding to evidence of a sharp economic blow from the coronavirus pandemic. 
Industrial output shrank by a seasonally adjusted 3.8% in February from a month earlier, worse than a 1.8% fall tipped in a Reuters survey and the biggest drop since a 10.5% plunge in December 2008. It shrank 1.3% in January.

On a year-on-year basis, the factory output jumped 11.4%, far better than a 2.6% fall in January. The virus impact is expected to weigh further as the number of infections spiked across the world in March.

German economy could shrink by 5.4% this year due to coronavirus – advisors

March 30, 2020 / 10:17 AM
BERLIN (Reuters) - The coronavirus outbreak will push Germany into recession in the first half of this year and could result in output in Europe’s largest economy contracting by up to 5.4% this year, Germany’s council of economic advisers said on Monday.

Germany is in virtual lockdown, with more than 57,000 people infected and 455 deaths from the virus. Schools, shops, restaurants and sports facilities have closed and many firms have stopped production to help slow the spread of the disease. 

The panel that advises the government said its baseline scenario - in which the economic situation would normalise over the summer - was for the economy to contract by 2.8% this year before potentially growing by 3.7% next year.

The advisers said a more marked ‘V’ shaped recession curve with widespread halts to production or longer-lasting public health measures could lead to the economy contracting by 5.4% this year before growing by 4.9% in 2021 thanks in part to a statistical overhang.

Neiman Marcus to furlough nearly 14,000 workers amid virus crisis

March 31, 2020 / 12:09 AM
(Reuters) - Luxury retailer Neiman Marcus [NMRCUS.UL] said on Monday it would furlough most of its about 14,000 workers, as the coronavirus crisis forced it to close all stores till the end of April.
Employees not impacted by the furloughs will also take pay cuts in April, with Chief Executive Officer Geoffroy van Raemdonck forgoing his salary for the month, Raemdonck said in a statement.

Top U.S. retailers, including Macy’s Inc (M.N), Kohl’s Corp (KSS.N) and Gap Inc (GPS.N), also announced mass furloughs on Monday and said they will also keep stores closed in April as coronavirus cases in the country reached nearly 141,000. 

“We will reassess whether the store closures and corresponding furlough will continue beyond April 30th as the date approaches,” Raemdonck said.

The company was earlier reported to be in bankruptcy talks with its lenders as it struggled to ease its $4.3 billion debt load.

SeaWorld to furlough most of its employees amid COVID-19 closures

March 28, 2020 / 3:03 PM
March 28 (UPI) -- SeaWorld Entertainment has announced the furlough of more than 90 percent of its employees due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The company made the announcement that thousands would be furloughed beginning Wednesday in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Friday. 

"The furloughed employees will not receive compensation from the company during the furlough period after March 31," the filing said. "The furlough period is uncertain at this time due to the temporary park closures and will be reassessed as business conditions dictate."

SeaWorld had 4,300 full-time employees and nearly 11,000 part-time employees as of the end of last year, a SEC filing last month shows.

The company has had rounds of layoffs over the years, but the furlough was a first for the company.

Employees were sent a letter, which cited restrictions because of COVID-19, as a reason for the furlough.

"Government orders prohibiting large gatherings, restricting travel, and mandating business closures have caused many companies to scale back or cease operations," the letter said. "They have caused significant disruption to our communities and are anticipated to do so for the foreseeable future."

Airlines plan furloughs; Air New Zealand sees smaller carrier in a year

March 31, 2020 / 12:11 AM
BENGALURU/SYDNEY (Reuters) - Major global airlines projected layoffs, furloughs and capacity cuts over the next few months, with Air New Zealand on Tuesday warning it expected staffing levels to be 30% lower than it is now, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Airlines have been rushing to shore up liquidity, reduce capital expenditure and cut costs to stay afloat amid the worst crisis to hit the global aviation industry.

Data firm OAG said the aviation industry was less than half the size it was in mid-January due to the rapid capacity cuts implemented by airlines around the world. Around 40% of the world’s passenger jet fleet is now in storage, according to data from aviation firm Cirium.

Air New Zealand (AIR.NZ) said it will lay off about 3,500 employees, nearly a third of its workforce, in the coming months, as the outbreak forced it to cancel nearly all flights.

The virus “has seen us go from having revenue of $5.8 billion to what is shaping up to be less than $500 million annually,” Chief Executive Officer Greg Foran told staff in an email. “We expect that even in a year’s time we will be at least 30% smaller than we are today.”

New Zealand’s national carrier, which employs 12,500 people, warned the layoffs estimate was a “conservative” assumption and the numbers could rise if the domestic lockdown and border restrictions were extended.

Air Canada (AC.TO) will cut second-quarter capacity by 85%-90%, place about 15,200 unionized employees off duty and furlough about 1,300 managers, beginning on or about April 3.

Canada’s largest airline said it is drawing down about C$1 billion ($706 million) in credit to bolster liquidity, while senior executives will forgo between 25%-50% of their salary and board members agreed to a 25% cut.

Low-cost U.S. carrier Spirit Airlines Inc (SAVE.N) is cancelling all flights to and from the New York region after U.S. officials warned against travel to the area because of the pandemic.

On Monday, Germany’s Lufthansa (LHAG.DE) said 27,000 of its staff would reduce hours, Britain’s EasyJet PLC (EZJ.L) said it would lay off 4,000 UK-based cabin crew for two months, and low-cost carrier flydubai said it would reduce staff pay for three months.

Fiat Chrysler executives, salaried employees to take pay cuts during coronavirus pandemic

March 30, 2020 / 10:07 PM
(Reuters) - Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV’s (FCHA.MI) (FCAU.N) top executives and salaried workers around the globe will take pay cuts in an act of “shared sacrifice” brought on by the coronavirus pandemic that has shuttered the automaker’s plants in Europe and North America, according to a company memo seen by Reuters.

Chief Executive Officer Mike Manley said in the memo he will take a 50 percent pay cut for three months starting April 1, while Chairman John Elkann and FCA’s board of directors will forego the remainder of their 2020 compensation. FCA said most global salaried employees will be asked to take a temporary 20 pct pay cut.

---- Last week, No. 1 U.S. automaker General Motors Co (GM.N) said it planned to keep its plants closed indefinitely and was reducing the pay of salaried employees and executives and suspending some future product programs to conserve cash.

GM’s chief executive and chief financial officer issued a stark warning to company employees in an internal video, saying that “significant austerity measures” were needed to preserve the company’s long-term viability.

To save cash, Ford Motor Co (F.N) also said it was temporarily cutting top executives’ salaries.

Pandemic-Related Unemployment and Shutdowns Are a Recipe for Social Unrest

That's a huge concern as forecasters expect the U.S. unemployment rate in the months to come to surpass that seen during the depths of the Great Depression.

J.D. Tuccille| 3.27.2020 11:10 AM
Could the stalled economy we've inflicted on ourselves in our frantic efforts to battle the COVID-19 pandemic lead to civil disorder? History suggests that's a real danger.

Around the world, high unemployment and stagnant economic activity tend to lead to social unrest, including demonstrations, strikes, and other forms of potentially violent disruptions. That's a huge concern as forecasters expect the U.S. unemployment rate in the months to come to surpass that seen during the depths of the Great Depression.

"We're putting this initial number at 30 percent; that's a 30 percent unemployment rate" in the second quarter of this year as a result of the planned economic shutdowns, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard told Bloomberg News on March 22. Gross Domestic Product, he adds, is expected to drop by 50 percent.

Unlike most bouts of economic malaise, this is a self-inflicted wound meant to counter a serious public health crisis. But, whatever the reasons, it means businesses shuttered and people without jobs and incomes. That's risky.

"Results from the empirical analysis indicate that economic growth and the unemployment rate are the two most important determinants of social unrest," notes the International Labour Organisation (ILO), a United Nations agency that maintains a Social Unrest Index in an attempt to predict civil disorder based, in part, on economic trends. "For example, a one standard deviation increase in unemployment raises social unrest by 0.39 standard deviations, while a one standard deviation increase in GDP growth reduces social unrest by 0.19 standard deviations."

Why would economic shutdowns lead to social unrest? Because, contrary to the airy dismissals of some members of the political class and many ivory-tower types, commerce isn't a grubby embarrassment to be tolerated and avoidedit's the life's blood of a society. Jobs and businesses keep people alive. They represent the activities that meet demand for food, clothing, shelterand that develop and distribute the medicine and medical supplies we need to battle COVID-19.

U.S. coronavirus death toll rises past 3,000 on deadliest day

March 30, 2020 / 12:21 PM
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus pandemic climbed past 3,000 on Monday, the deadliest day yet in the country’s mounting crisis, while New York cheered the arrival of a gleaming 1,000-bed U.S. Navy hospital ship as a sign of hope in the city’s desperate fight.

In a grim new milestones marking the spread of the virus, total deaths across the United States hit 3,017, including at least 540 on Monday, and the reported cases climbed to more than 163,000, according to a Reuters tally.

People in New York and New Jersey lined both sides of the Hudson River to cheer the U.S Navy ship Comfort, a converted oil tanker painted white with giant red crosses, as it sailed past the Statue of Liberty accompanied by support ships and helicopters.

The Comfort will treat non-coronavirus patients, including those who require surgery and critical care, in an effort to free up other resources to fight the virus, the Navy said.

---- In California, another hard-hit state, Governor Gavin Newsom said the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations had nearly doubled over the past four days and the number of ICU patients had tripled. Officials there also appealed for medical volunteers.

---- To ease the pressure in New York, construction of a 68-bed field hospital began on Sunday in Manhattan’s Central Park. The white tents being set up evoked a wartime feel in an island of green typically used by New Yorkers to exercise, picnic and enjoy the first signs of spring.

The makeshift facility, provided by the Mount Sinai Health System and non-profit organization Samaritan’s Purse, is expected to begin accepting patients on Tuesday, de Blasio said.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, one of the most prominent public figures of the coronavirus crisis, told a news conference the state might have to step in to close playgrounds in the country’s most populous city in order to enforce social distancing and slow the spread of the virus.

France sees worst daily death toll as army ferries critical virus patients

March 30, 2020 / 4:21 PM
STRASBOURG/PARIS (Reuters) - France recorded its worst daily coronavirus death toll on Monday, exceeding 3,000 for the first time, and army helicopters transported critical patients from the east to hospitals overseas as the country battled to free up space in life-support units.

The Grand Est region the first in France to be overwhelmed by a wave of infections that has rapidly moved west to engulf the greater Paris region, where hospitals are desperately adding intensive care beds to cope with the influx. 

The number of coronavirus deaths since March 1 climbed by 16% to 3,024, while the number of intensive care cases rose more than 10% to 5,107, rising after two days of falls.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has warned the country’s 67 million people that the toughest weeks in the fight against epidemic are still to come and doctors in the capital said on Monday they were close to saturation point.

“Today in the pulmonology unit we are as full as full can be,” Jerome Pinot, a doctor at the Georges Pompidou hospital in Paris, told Reuters.

“To find a place in intensive care is a never-ending headache. We ask ourselves whether we can move this patient to this unit to take another patient. It’s an incessant game.”

France has increased the number of beds in intensive care units from 5,000 to about 10,000 since the start of the crisis and it is scrambling to reach 14,500.

In the eastern city of Strasbourg, paramedics in hazmat suits transferred six patients onto three Caiman NH90 medicalised helicopters before they were moved to hospitals in Bern and Frankfurt.

Iran's coronavirus death toll reaches 2,757: health official

March 30, 2020 / 10:48 AM
DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran’s death toll from the new coronavirus has increased to 2,757 with 117 new deaths in the past 24 hours, a health ministry spokesman told state TV on Monday, adding that the total number of cases has climbed to 41,495. 

“In the past 24 hours we had 117 new deaths and 3,186 new confirmed cases of people infected with the coronavirus,” Kianush Jahanpur told state TV, calling on Iranians to stay at home.

Coronavirus Persists In Many Patients Even After Symptoms Disappear, Study Finds

BEIJING — Understanding and treating a new viral strain takes time, and scientists the world over continue to make new discoveries about the novel coronavirus on a daily basis. Now, a new study out of Beijing reveals more about just how much the disease impacts the human body: many patients will still be contagious and house coronavirus in their bodies for up to eight days — even after their individual symptoms disappear.

In all, 16 patients treated for mild coronavirus symptoms at a hospital in Beijing were analyzed for this research. They were treated and released relatively early during the initial outbreak in China (January 28th to February 9th). Their median age was about 36 years old.

Of the 16 patients, half still had coronavirus and were contagious after their outward signs of the virus retreated.

“The most significant finding from our study is that half of the patients kept shedding the virus even after resolution of their symptoms,” says co-lead author Dr. Lokesh Sharma, instructor of medicine, Section of Pulmonary, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine, Department of Medicine, Yale School of Medicine, in a release. “More severe infections may have even longer shedding times.”

The patients exhibited typical symptoms associated with coronavirus; difficulty breathing, coughing, fever, etc. They were treated with a variety of different medications, and all made a full recovery.

Except for just one patient, all of the studied subjects initially developed symptoms roughly five days after contracting the coronavirus. On average, symptoms lasted for eight days, but even after the outward signs disappeared patients stayed viral and contagious anywhere from one to eight days later.

“If you had mild respiratory symptoms from COVID-19 and were staying at home so as not to infect people, extend your quarantine for another two weeks after recovery to ensure that you don’t infect other people,” suggests corresponding author Lixin Xie, MD, professor, College of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Chinese PLA General Hospital, Beijing.

“The markets in the long run are no doubt driven by fundamental economic laws—if the United States runs a persistent trade deficit, the dollar will eventually plummet—but in the short run money flows less rationally. Fear and, to a lesser extent, greed are what make money move.”

Michael Lewis, Liar's Poker

Crooks and Scoundrels Corner

The bent, the seriously bent, and the totally doubled over.    
Today, more Covid-19 hope. Did Italy get it wrong?

Century-Old Vaccine Investigated as a Weapon Against Coronavirus

By Jason Gale  March 30, 2020, 3:15 AM GMT+1
·         Tuberculosis shot begins trial in Melbourne health workers
·         Immunization with BCG may bolster early immune defenses

A vaccine that’s been used to prevent tuberculosis is being given to health-care workers in Melbourne to see if it will protect them against the coronavirus.

The bacillus Calmette-Guerin, or BCG, shot has been used widely for about 100 years, with a growing appreciation for its off-target benefits. Not only is it a common immunotherapy for early-stage bladder cancer, it also seems to train the body’s first line of immune defense to better fight infections.

With an immunization specifically targeted against the pandemic-causing Covid-19 disease at least a year away, the World Health Organization says it’s important to know whether the BCG vaccine can reduce disease in those infected with the coronavirus, and is encouraging international groups to collaborate with a study led by Nigel Curtis, head of infectious diseases research, at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne.

“It can boost the immune system so that it defends better against a whole range of different infections, a whole range of different viruses and bacteria in a lot more generalized way,” said Curtis, who’s also a professor of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Melbourne and head of the infectious diseases unit at the city’s Royal Children’s Hospital.

Hospital staff who volunteered to be part of a six-month trial in Australia involving 4,000 health-care workers will be randomly allocated to be vaccinated starting Monday against seasonal influenza and TB, or the flu shot only.

A placebo vaccine won’t work as a control in this case because the BCG shot typically causes a localized skin reaction that leaves a scar, making it obvious which group received the TB vaccination.

Similar research is going on in the Netherlands. Curtis, in an interview Saturday, said he’s in discussions with potential trial sites in other Australian cities as well as Boston.

How a century-old blood therapy turned into a new way to fight COVID-19

Rich Haridy  March 29, 2020
Last week the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the experimental use of blood from recovered COVID-19 subjects as a treatment for newly infected patients. Known as convalescent plasma therapy, the treatment harks back to the late 19th century, and doctors today are suggesting it may be the stop-gap we need to hold the virus at bay while more complex treatments and vaccines are developed.

In the 1890s German scientist Emil Behring pioneered a novel treatment for diphtheria. Behring, along with a Japanese physician named Kitasato ShibasaburĊ, discovered that blood serum from animals infected with certain toxins could be infused into humans providing treatments for various illnesses.

Behring described these protective molecules at the time as "antitoxins," and spent the rest of the decade optimizing the process. He ultimately found horses to be the most efficient animal for producing large volumes of serum antitoxins. In 1901 Behring won the very first Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work developing these diphtheria serum therapies.

----Across the first few decades of the 20th century the treatment became known as convalescent plasma therapy, and was frequently utilized in times of infectious disease outbreak. Blood products from recovered patients were common treatments for everything from measles and mumps to polio.

The treatment was widely deployed during the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918. A 2006 meta-analysis examining eight studies published between 1918 and 1925 suggested convalescent plasma therapy significantly reduced mortality rates in cohorts receiving the treatment.

The 2006 study of course cites significant limitations in interpreting these results, as recorded case studies from the early 20th century do not have the methodological rigor of modern research practices. These were not blinded, randomized, or placebo-controlled trials. Control groups were calculated by simply counting untreated patients in the same hospital or ward.

----This treatment method ultimately fell out of common use by the mid-20th century. From the discovery of antibiotics to the development of sophisticated vaccines, scientists eventually produced more effective modes of medical treatment.

But … new treatments take time to develop, trial and deploy. And when a new virus starts spreading through the population we don't really have the luxury of time.

It worked then, it may work now

In the early 2000s a new respiratory coronavirus appeared in China. The virus was named SARS and the world suddenly faced a pandemic unlike anything it had seen in decades. Ultimately, SARS was contained with less than 10,000 cases recorded between 2002 and 2004.

Facing an entirely new virus, with a high fatality rate and no treatment options, doctors in Hong Kong conducted an impromptu convalescent plasma study, inspired by similar recent case studies out of Africa demonstrating potential efficacy treating the ebola virus. Eighty patients were administered convalescent plasma across a two month period during the 2003 peak of the SARS outbreak in Hong Kong.

The overall fatality rate among the treated cohort in the study was 12.5 percent. The general fatality rate in Hong Kong across the same period of time was 17 percent. However, perhaps more importantly, the study found the timing of the convalescent plasma therapy significantly affected its success. Those patients receiving the treatment early (in this case less than 14 days after the onset of symptoms) displayed much better outcomes than those given the treatment later.

A more recent metastudy exploring the effect of convalescent plasma therapy, which incorporates clinical reports spanning the Spanish flu to SARS, concluded a striking 75 percent reduction in overall mortality among patients treated with the therapy. That 2015 study also confirmed early initiation of the therapy seems to be critical in whether it works or not.

Italy Home Quarantine Repeats Mistake Made in China, Doctors Say

March 30, 2020, 9:47 AM GMT+1
·         Italy needs to shift to mass quarantining of mild cases
·         Members of Chinese expert team to Italy say in interview

Italy needs to shift to mass quarantining of coronavirus patients with mild symptoms instead of letting them isolate at home, according to a group of Chinese experts who traveled to the European nation to advise officials there.

Doctors in Wuhan made the same error early on in the outbreak, said Liang Zong’An, head of the respiratory department at the West China Hospital at Sichuan University. While seriously ill patients were admitted to hospitals, doctors at the time recommended that those with mild symptoms isolate themselves at home, in part to reduce the strain on Wuhan’s overburdened health care system.

Back then, it was not well understood how infectious the virus can be even in those who don’t seem very sick. But researchers now know that those with mild symptoms who are told to stay at home usually risked passing the virus to family members, as well as to others outside their homes as some still moved around freely.

Italian daily Corriere della Sera reported Monday that a Saturday crackdown on people violating lockdown rules included some 50 confirmed cases who were circulating on the streets rather than staying home.

Wuhan began quarantining all mild cases in makeshift hospitals converted from offices, stadiums and gymnasiums in early February, a move that helped dramatically slow the spread of the virus. The city where the virus first emerged last December has successfully contained the outbreak, according to official figures that show few new infections even as the pandemic accelerates in other countries.

Liang said his team advised Italy to follow China’s lead to forcibly isolate patients with mild symptoms from their families. In China, a study of one province showed that 80% of cluster infections originated from people told to rest at home, according to Xiao Ning, a researcher from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention who was part of the team.

Italian families generally live in more spacious apartments than people in Wuhan, Liang said. Still, there’s growing anecdotal evidence that whole families are getting infected from one sick person in their midst, despite attempts to isolate the infected in separate rooms.

“We can’t say if Italy’s home quarantine is right or wrong because each country has its own mechanism, but we found some problems,” said Xiao. The Italian experts they met with could not say how many clusters of infections arose from home isolation, according to Liang.

Milan has started to seize hotels for patients with mild symptoms. The first one with 306 rooms will be ready this week and will be designated to isolate patients from their families during the quarantine.

Technology Update.
With events happening fast in the development of solar power and graphene, I’ve added this section. Updates as they get reported. Is converting sunlight to usable cheap AC or DC energy mankind’s future from the 21st century onwards.

Graphene device could harvest Wi-Fi signals for wireless charging

Michael Irving  March 29, 2020
In its current form, wireless charging technology isn’t much more useful than plugging in your phone – after all, the device still has to be in contact with the charger. But there’s plenty of ambient radiation just floating around in the air, and now researchers from MIT have laid out the blueprints of a system that could tap into this wasted energy source to charge devices.

Terahertz radiation is made up of high-frequency waves that sit between infrared and microwaves on the electromagnetic spectrum. They’re produced by many electronic devices, including basically anything that sends out a Wi-Fi signal.

While this may seem like an untapped gold mine for energy harvesting, it’s been notoriously difficult for scientists to harness. The MIT team’s new method seems like an intriguing possibility – but at this stage it’s just a blueprint, and hasn’t been tested.

“We are surrounded by electromagnetic waves in the terahertz range,” says Hiroki Isobe, lead author of the study. “If we can convert that energy into an energy source we can use for daily life, that would help to address the energy challenges we are facing right now.”

The team’s device is known as a terahertz rectifier and it’s made up of a small square of graphene with a layer of boron nitride underneath, flanked on both sides by an antenna. This antenna collects the terahertz radiation from the ambient air, boosting the signal while passing it onto the graphene. That, in turn, causes the electrons in the graphene to all flow in the same direction, creating a direct current (DC).

The team says that the graphene needs to be as pure as possible, since any impurities would send the electrons scattering. The boron nitride layer is also there to prevent this from happening. Normally, the electrons in graphene would be forced equally in all directions, but the boron and nitrogen atoms in the lower layer redirect their path just enough to keep them all moving together.

While it’s likely that any terahertz rectifier would only generate a small amount of electricity, it could be enough to power small devices at first. The team suggests that the first use cases might be for powering implanted devices such as pacemakers, which currently require surgery to change the batteries.

But of course, the end goal of this kind of technology would be passively topping up our phones and laptops while using them. Researchers have been experimenting for years with finding ways to harvest signals like radio waves, but the universal problems include small outputs, long charge times or needing specially-built rooms. It looks like we’ll be plugging in our phones for many years to come.

Nevertheless, the MIT project is the latest baby step towards useful wireless charging technology. The team now plans to begin building and testing the physical device.

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      • 2019:   Cornell University’s online digital archive for electronic preprints of scientific papers noted  127, 546 graphene journal publications
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“It was the job of people like me to make up reasons, to spin a plausible yarn. And it’s amazing what people will believe. Heavy selling out of the Middle East was an old standby. Since no one ever had any clue what the Arabs were doing with their money or why, no story involving Arabs could ever be refuted. So if you didn’t know why the dollar was falling, you shouted out something about Arabs.”

Michael Lewis, Liar's Poker

The Monthly Coppock Indicators finished February 

DJIA: 25,409 +75 Down. NASDAQ: 8,567 +171 Up. SP500: 2,954 +133 Up. 

Given the severity of the still growing coronavirus crisis, I wouldn’t follow 
technical signals in what I think will turn into the first depression since the 1930s. Barring a miracle recovery in all three markets, the monthly Coppock indicators are heading for a reversal at the month-end.